I am a veteran Black Friday shopper. My dad and I have gone shopping in the wee hours of the day after Thanksgiving for 18 years! Back in the day the stores offered free coffee and cocoa while you waited in line in the chilly pre-dawn temps. They also handed you goodie bags or Black Friday survival kits as you entered the stores. These had granola bars, lifesavers, headache medicine, coupons and even little toys that made great stocking stuffers. You felt like the stores were excited to have you shop there and the employees were friendly and appreciative of your business. Then a few years ago the goodie bags and refreshments stopped, the happy employees disappeared and Black Friday changed.
When Kmart announced several years ago that they would be open on Thanksgiving Day with special one day only sales, we vowed never to go shopping on Thanksgiving. We felt it was wrong to ditch the family just to save a few bucks on pajamas for the kids. This year that all changed again. Walmart opened at 10pm and Target opened at midnight. In my parent’s town of Venice, FL those two stores are right across the street from one another-which makes Black Friday shopping a little easier.
I only do a little Black Friday prep online. There is something about having the ads physically in my hand that makes it easier for me to plan my purchasing strategy. Honestly, this year there were no big ticket items on my list, but there were a few things I wanted at both Walmart and Target.
We arrived at shopped Walmart first because they opened at 10pm. It was mobbed but I did get what I went for and so did my dad. Then we headed across the street to Target to wait in line. We arrived at Target at 11:00pm and the line was quite long already. I noticed right away that the line was different than in years past. This year’s line was filled with young people. There were lots of groups of teens and college age kids. Also lots of young families with kids in tow! An hour before the store opened, there was a line that went the length of Target and half of Bealls. By the time the doors opened at midnight, the line for Target went past Bealls and down the side of the building.
Target employees had warned us that they were allowing groups of 30 into the store at 30 second intervals to avoid anyone being trampled. There were barricades up by the doors and even at SWAT team member patrolling the entrance. We didn’t get into the store until 12:20am and we were about the middle of the line! The big draws were the HD LCD TVs-though they were all off brands and we’re always amazed at how many people buy televisions based on price rather than reputation. While we were still outside we had seen a lot of televisions head out the door but there was nothing else in the cart with it so it appeared the loss leader didn’t do its job very well. I was shopping for 2 specific items that were on sale. The fire bowls and the collegiate fleece. We hunted for the fire bowls first, I wanted 2 of them but when we finally found an employee to help us all he said was “They are somewhere in the middle of the store.” big help. We finally found where they were, in two separate locations, but both were sold out. Next we were off to find the collegiate fleece. As you can see, the ad shows USF, Miami and UF. When we found the fleece in the sporting goods section, the display was pretty full but all it has was UF jackets in men, women’s and children’s sizes. We spent about 5 minutes tracking down another employee to ask if they had any other school’s jackets and we were told all they got in was UF. I needed 1 UF and 1 USF so again, we were disappointed. Dad got the video game he was after at a great sale price and then we headed to the checkout line.
For the second year in a row Target had the cash registers blocked off and an employee sending small groups of shoppers to each register like loading a ride at Walt Disney World. This causes a very long single file line of shopping carts around the store. The line went across the front of the store, down the side and half way across the back. Dad got in line and I wandered the store to see if there was anything I missed. I am not much of an impulse shopper. I usually know what I am after and get that item and don’t buy a lot of extras. Target had most of their “specials” on endcaps or in green bins sprinkled throughout the store. I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on my list. The other thing I noticed while wandering the store is that there were several groups of youth just wandering around the store and getting in the way of people who were trying to navigate shopping carts with 40″ TVs in them. I think the youth were there because there was nothing else to do in town at midnight, we’ve never had that problem at 4am. Dad was in line for about 20 minutes before he texted me to meet him near the front of the line. I noticed that the long line was making it difficult to shop everything on the perimeter of the store and few people had cut through the line to get to the Christmas candy/stocking stuffer section, the grocery section or the health & beauty sections of the store.
All I purchased was 1 UF fleece because everything else I wanted was gone before we got there. Checkout went smoothly for each of us and we each spent less than $40. As we were leaving the store at 1:08am we noticed there were still people coming into the store but there were no carts available and the line at the in-store Starbucks was really long! We moved on and headed to Bealls to continue our shopping.
We finished our shopping at 2am and realized that this new Black Friday schedule messed with another tradition which is our daddy-daughter breakfast. Neither of us wanted to eat at 2am so we headed home to catch some Zzzzzs before hitting the mall later in the day for round 2 of Black Friday Shopping. We both agreed that we will re-think our Black Friday participation next year. I’d much rather shop at 4am with other dedicated shoppers than at 10pm and midnight with the masses.
|Black Friday 2011 #myBFDeals
This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions are 100% my own.